Craig Smith has inked a five-year, $21.25 million contract with the Nashville Predators.
Smith and the Predators were scheduled to have their arbitration hearing today. According to Elliotte Friedman, it sounds like they did have the hearing, but agreed to a long-term deal afterward rather than wait for the ruling. Smith had 23 goals and 44 points in 82 contests last season.
Craig Smith was looking for $4.75 million in arbitration. The Nashville Predators felt like $3 million was an appropriate salary for the 25-year old forward. They’ve settled for an average of $4.25 million over five years.
“As evidenced by his back-to-back 20-goal seasons and performance in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Craig Smith is an integral part of our team’s young core and we are pleased to have agreed on a long-term contract that both parties are comfortable with,” Predators GM David Poile said in a statement. “With Craig’s durability, work ethic and intensity, we see him continuing the build on his recent production and be a valuable contributor to our offensive attack for the next five seasons.”
Many hockey fans may not even know the name Craig Smith, let’s face it, the Nashville Predators as an organization do not get a lot of national fanfare. In fact, last season may have been the most coverage the team has ever received. The Preds were one of the biggest surprises of 2015, finishing third in the Western Conference with 104 points, after missing the playoffs the previous season.
Some people may be surprised by the over 50% salary increase. Personally, I think it’s fair. Smith, did have an outstanding playoffs, with five points in a six-game series with the Chicago Blackhawks. Smith is one of the better young two-way forwards in hockey. His puck possession numbers have always been solid, and He gets you 40 to 50 points playing second line minutes. I for one, would not be surprised to see his offense reach another level this season, after a confidence boosting playoff performance.
With the NHL regular-season closer than you may think… It will be interesting to see where the online sportsbooks decide to rank the Nashville Predators after the signing. The price point for established two-way hockey players has gone through the roof this off-season, (I.e. Ryan O’Reilly). With that said, if Craig Smith’s development continues in a positive direction the Nashville Predators could be in a real win-win situation.